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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
Drum beats to add rhythm to events at UNHQ this week
23 March 2009 / 03:14

[Dateline: New York | Author:  iSeek]

Drum | Credit: Event Brochure/DPIMonths of intense planning will pay off as the drum beats marking the 2009 Commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade sound this week. 

In a message issued for day, the Secretary-General said, “I urge everyone, everywhere, to beat the drum to proclaim that black or white, man or woman, we are one people.  When musicians play, they pay attention to each other while playing their own parts.  We must follow their lead.  We can achieve harmony only if we respect each other, rejoice in our diversity, and work together for our common goals.”

The scheduled events will bring together a wide diaspora of well-known personalities including artists, authors, historians and performers descended from slaves now living in the Caribbean and the Americas, and, of course, Africa.   

In addition to the activities planned by UN Information Centres around the world, an extensive schedule of events is planned in New York.  All staff are invited to attend the following events as space and work schedules allow.

Full programme (includes a list of expected participants)

Tuesday, 24 March

Image from Scattered Africa film1:15 p.m. to 6 p.m., Documentary film screenings, Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium (detailed schedule)
The three films featured will provide an introduction to the history of the slave trade and will explore the social and cultural repercussions of slavery, as well as the extraordinary achievements of those who descended from slavery and have accomplished great and inspirational acts.

The event will include Q&A sessions with Mr. Georges Collinet (Cameroon/USA), who is featured in the first film “Scattered Africa: Faces and Voices of the African Diaspora”; Mr. Renato Barbieri (Brazil), director of the second film “Black Atlantic: On the Orixas Route”; and Mr. Jeffery Heyman, director of the third film "Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers".

Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Drum | Credit: Event Brochure/DPI6 p.m., "Drums" Exhibit Opening, Visitor’s Lobby (on display through 24 April)
The Deputy Secretary-General will launch an exhibit of drums sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Cameroon, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, CARICOM and the African Union, highlighting the historical perspective and socio-cultural impact of drums throughout the slave trade and beyond, from Africa to the Americas. 

Wednesday, 25 March

9 a.m. Student Videoconference
Participating in the conference will be U.S. schools that are part of the UNESCO Associated Schools Project (ASPnet) Network and schools in the Caribbean invited by the organization Amistad America, including students from schools in New York City gathered at UNHQ. 

Noon, Drumming event, Lawn near the Peace Bell (event flyer)
The Secretary-General will symbolically launch the week’s events along with musicians, drummers and steel bands.  The event will feature performances by solo and group percussionists: Vado Diamonde (Ivory Coast); Manhattan Samba (Brazil); Magbana Drum and Dance (Brooklyn, USA); Chauncey Yearwood and David Freyre (New York, USA); Harmony Music Makers (steel-band orchestra from the Caribbean); a group of children from the French-American School of New York; and a performance by drummers and a typical spirit-invoking ceremony (griot) from Cameroon.  The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, will also make remarks.

7:30 p.m., Concert and Cultural Event, General Assembly Hall
This cultural evening with performers and celebrities will draw on the voices of the victims to tell the story of centuries of slavery, and honor the achievements of the enslaved people who, though denied their freedom, were still able to confront and transcend oppression. Over the years, the oral history of the transatlantic slave trade has been perpetuated in music by the descendants of the millions of victims of slavery.  NOTE:  All tickets have already been distributed.

Thursday, 26 March

10:15 a.m. DPI/NGO Briefing, Panel Discussion on the “Legacy of the Slave Trade on Modern Society” in Conference Room 4.

1:30 p.m., UN Bookshop event focusing on slavery, and a “Meet the author” book signing with Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Sylviane Diouf.

Video resources

Drum Video | Credit: UN YouTube Channel On the web site created to mark the occasion, a three-minute video reminds viewers that the “drum beat, slow and fast at times like a West African tempo from the Gold Coast, sad or joyful from tango to meringue, remains consistent in its universal appeal. Indeed, drums continue to carry to men and women of all color and creed a message that all understand: it is the soothing or haunting sound of freedom, even when journeys are harsh or long. Everywhere, drums give birth to a simple truth: every time you beat the drum, you break the silence.”


Also available on YouTube is a video about the collaboration between the United Nations and the nongovernmental organization Culture Project in organizing Wednesday night’s cultural event and concert.

All events and materials for the day were organized and created by staff in the Department of Public Information.